The Twilight Zone (1960) – The Four of Us Are Dying, Third from the Sun, and I Shot an Arrow into the Air

Paramount Pictures continues guiding me through the ins and outs of the dark turns and labyrinths of the Twilight Zone, as I journey through The Complete Series on Blu-Ray.

First up this week is The Four of Us Are Dying, Rod Serling penned the episode, based on a short story by George Clayton Johnson. This episode originally aired on 1 January, 1960, and the story follows Arch Hammer (Harry Townes, Phillip Pine, Ross Martin & Don Gordon) a man with a unique gift. He can change his face to resemble other people, something he is not afraid to exploit to his own benefit, no matter the effect it has on others.

He poses as a dead musician, an executed mob boss, and others all so he can benefit from their lives. He strings along Maggie (Beverly Garland), a lounge singer, as well as exploiting a group of gangsters, but fate, and karma are about to catch up with him.

I suppose the real moral is that if you had this gift, you should use it for good, and not for your own gain. Unfortunately, Hammer could care less about everyone else, and is only in it for himself. And that, in the end, is what does him in.

Apparently, this time, he came to the wrong town, because everything unfurls for him pretty quickly, despite his best efforts.

This time around there is no ironic twist, there is just the story, and it plays out rather nicely.

The extras for this episode include an interview with Beverly Garland, a commentary by film historian Gary Gerani, and an isolated score by the fantastic Jerry Goldsmith.

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Third from the Sun is next up. Serling writes for the screen, using another Richard Matheson short story, and a premiere date of 8 January, 1960.

With the threat of nuclear war on the immediate horizon two families, who work for the government, plan on stealing a spaceship and escaping to another planet. Unfortunately, someone is trying to stop them.

William Sturka (Fritz Weaver) and his co-worker Jerry Riden (Joe Maross), have prepared for this day. It seems they are hours away from a nuclear disaster. With their families anxious about the constant threat they are living under the two men have a plan, an escape.

But the security officer at the facility, Carling (Edward Andrews), poses a threat to their plan.

Can the two men escape with their families before it’s too late?

And would it come as a shock that this one has a bit of a twist at the end? The clues are there from the beginning, with the music, the art, the lack of identifiable locations, or models on cars… everything is similar, but just a little different. Until we see the spaceship – a flaying saucer through and through.

If you don’t know where they are escaping to by now…

This one has a commentary by producer David Simkins and Twilight Zone Companion author Marc Scott Zircee, an interview by Zircee with the episode’s director Richard L. Bare from 1978, and an isolated music score.

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The final episode this week is I Shot an Arrow into the Air. Serling adapted a short story by Madelin Champion, and it aired on 16 January, 1960.

The story follows the trio of crewmembers who survive their rocket crashing on an unknown world, and both order and supplies are diminishing.

The Arrow 1, commanded by Donlin (Edward Binns) has crashed on a previously undiscovered asteroid, alongside his crew Corey (Dewey Martin) and Pierson (Ted Otis). The trio grate against one another right after crashing, as they look after their dead and dying fellows. Military discipline seems to be thrown right out the window as Corey causes problems left, right and centre.

As the fight for survival climbs to dangerous heights, the twist comes along with its reveal and puts the survivor in a whole new light… Nice.

The extras rounding out this last episode of the week are an isolated score, and a radio adaptation starring Chelcie Ross.

Make sure you check out The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series from Paramount Pictures, it’s the safest way to explore the darkness and the light, the imagination and the terror of… The Twilight Zone.

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